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Beginner help needed! Silly question!
27

cheeseisthebest · 05/07/2022 22:30

Hi, so I've started learning to ride, had a few lessons. It's much harder than I thought it would be and doesn't come instinctively to me at all. I keep using the rein when I should be using my feet. Hopefully it will start to fall into place!

But my question is how do I build a relationship with the horse? I know that might sound silly cos it's obvious but I guess I just feel a bit nervous? I've ridden the same horse and he's lovely, quite old, I talk to him and praise, anything else?

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User198724 · 05/07/2022 22:36

I’ve found trust cones with repetition. When I was doing lessons on the school horse I would bring treats and brush and saddle them myself to get familiar with them. Different schools have different rules so it would be best to ask first 🙂

I think using legs instead of rein will come with building muscle and time, just be careful not to pull on the horses head and to be gentle with the reins.

I think there is always something new to learn when it comes to horses so don’t get discouraged!! A lot of concepts take a while to click!

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cheeseisthebest · 05/07/2022 22:39

Thank you, yes I felt awful cos without meaning too I was pulling on the reins too much. Poor horse.
The stables are great but so busy I'm finding it hard to book lessons so they are ending up being quite far apart which also isn't helping.

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Lastqueenofscotland2 · 05/07/2022 22:41

In between lessons strengthening your core will make an enourmous difference.

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cheeseisthebest · 05/07/2022 22:45

Ok thank you, would pilates or yoga be a good way to do that?

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User198724 · 05/07/2022 22:51

Yoga and Pilates are great but planks are probably the best.
Using an exercise ball I’m place of a chair will also help with posture.
I also used to walk around with leg weights on, I looked a bit crazy but it built up muscle and helped stabilise my lower leg.
it’s hard to learn to use less rein, I think our brains are programmed to feel safer when safety all comes from the core and legs.

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cheeseisthebest · 05/07/2022 22:54

Great advice thank you and yes I think my brain thinks I'm riding a bike so need to use my hands!

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User198724 · 05/07/2022 23:29

You are probably doing better than you think! Don’t get discouraged it will all come together!

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Floralnomad · 05/07/2022 23:35

Are you having lessons on the lunge ? If not try booking that as you can then do exercises for improving your seat etc and do things without holding the reins IYSWIM .

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Pleasedontdothat · 05/07/2022 23:47

Definitely lunge lessons - you can work on your position without worrying about how to keep the horse going or steering and they will do wonders for your seat. Lunge lessons with no stirrups and no reins are particularly good at helping you realise you don’t need to steer with your hands.

As far as building a relationship with the horse goes, that will come in time as you spend more time around horses and get more comfortable in their presence. Does your riding school do any stable management sessions ? Learning how to groom, tack up and untack, leading a horse to and from the field will all help your confidence

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cheeseisthebest · 06/07/2022 08:52

Yes they do do those, good idea. I will ask about lunge lessons. Thank you

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maxelly · 06/07/2022 10:55

I wouldn't worry too much about feeling uncoordinated, it's very normal as a beginner, everything will click into place soon enough and riding school horses are well used to it and won't come to any harm from the odd incorrect aid or unbalanced moment (they're trained to grind to a halt at any such thing which can be frustrating when you want to get going faster!). As others have said lunge lessons would be great and also yoga/pilates to build your core and general cardio fitness from walking/running/cycling/swimming is good too.

In terms of building a relationship with your horse, it's tricky as horses are not like dogs, they're not intrinsically motivated by human contact, words or praise so you need to learn how they tick and to speak their language more than human language, as it were. They tend to respond best to calm, consistent handling in a strong routine (so the same things always happen in the same order), and body language is very important, it's how they communicate with one another and they will respond strongly to it in people too.

The best thing you can do is spend as much time around horses as possible and observe what frightens them (most things lol), what makes them relax, what annoys them, how they interact with other horses and different people and so on. It doesn't have to be all riding time, being around them on the ground is just as good if not better. Appreciate this may be hard within the confines of a busy riding school but if you can ask to be shown how to get your horse ready before a lesson and look after him afterwards, so getting him out of the stable, leading, tie-ing up, grooming, tacking up, washing down and cooling off afterwards and so on would all be really useful skills for you - maybe if you can book a lesson at a quieter time of day your teacher or one of the yard staff would be able to show you how and then you can start doing this before and after your lessons. It would be good to spend time with different horses too and see the differences in personality, some really enjoy a groom and a fuss, some are much more stand-offish, some are anxious and need really gentle handling, some are cheeky and need a firmer hand, just like children really! As a rider I always take some time before I ride to assess on the ground what sort of mood my horse is in before I ride (particularly an unfamiliar horse), is he feeling tired or energetic that day, is anything worrying him, is he bolshy or submissive to me etc, I find it really helps me know what to look out for and work on when I ride so learning to 'read' a horse in this way will be really helpful to you!

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Whitehorsegirl · 06/07/2022 21:25

As an adult beginner I find it helpful to move to stables where they make you tack/untack the horse and lead it into the arena yourself, so you can spend a little bit of time with your horse before and after the lesson.

When I first started learning in a small riding school they always brought the horse to me in the arena ready to mount which was really frustrating so I moved to a bigger one.

I have to say I was actually terrified of horses when I first started riding...

It might sound silly but I got a little routine going as well for myself to slowly get more comfortable with them and calm myself down in the process before the lesson starts. I make sure I get to the lesson a few minutes early, find out what horse has been allocated to me and introduce myself to them.I usually start by saying ''hello'' and the horse's name so they know I am there then I just stand quietly outside the pen for a bit and make sure my breathing is nice and relaxed, at which point the horse will usually investigate/stick its head out. Then I put my hand in a safe part of the neck without moving it and then once/if the horse is OK with the light contact I will give it a little rub/scratch/massage (my horse literally started dosing off while I was rubbing him last week). So that when the instructor gets there and I have to get inside the pen to get the horse ready and lead it I have had a little time to get to know each other first.

That probably sounds like a lot of faffing about but I wanted to learn to ride because I love animals so I am not keen on just treating the horse like a machine during the lesson and not getting any time at all from the ground to get to know them.

I must say I never had lunge lessons (maybe I should have!) and it took me a while to get the balance thing right and I used to pull too hard on the reins to try to steady myself too. Also as an adult beginner rider I think your body needs some time to adapt to using your muscles in a different way and build up the stamina.

I also found it useful to ride a few different horses so you can get used to different personalities and sizes. I must say that if you can have weekly lessons then that is the best.

The only thing that worked for me was riding every week with a nice tempered but not too slow horse and to slowly become braver. The stamina/muscles/balance got to e decent level after a year of hard graft but then again I was 49 when I first got on a horse!

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cheeseisthebest · 07/07/2022 14:39

Thank you that's really helpful.
It does seem to be back to back lessons and I'm wondering if I should try and find a different riding school where they might be more open to my doing that.

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Lastqueenofscotland2 · 07/07/2022 15:08

If the horses are literally doing a solid day of lessons straight after each other I’d be looking elsewhere as I doubt they have the horses welfare at heart.
If you’re getting your horse straight from another lesson and then riding and handing him over straight to another lesson that’s 3hrs with no break?! Are they getting offered water etc in between?

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cheeseisthebest · 07/07/2022 15:20

Yeh I'm not sure if it's totally back to back, I know last time I noticed someone was waiting when I finished. Going to have a look around.

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cheeseisthebest · 07/07/2022 15:25

Cos yes if they aren't getting a break that would be awful.

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maxelly · 07/07/2022 15:34

Yeah more than a couple of hours on the trot sounds like way too much but I'd be surprised if that was the case TBH, I've ridden at some large, very commercially run schools at times where I was a bit dubious on how much the owners really cared about the horses, and even then no more than 2 hours in a row and 2.5 hours total in the day was the 'rule' - however what they did do was have staff on hand who 'delivered' the horses ready tacked up to the arena for lessons and then whisked them away straight after, even if you were an experienced rider perfectly willing and competent to lead them back to their stable and untack etc. - because the whole place was run so efficiently they couldn't or weren't willing to spare even the 2 mins to show you which stable your horse lived in and where their tack was kept, plus I guess they didn't want to have to double check you'd done things like remember to take boots off and check their water was clean so it was just easier for the staff to do it. But I do think it's a shame, like I say I think it improves your ride experience to have time to get to know the horse beforehand and I was always taught from a child the importance of looking after your own horse/pony, making sure they were comfortable after a ride and have fresh water etc., even before you take your own gear off or get yourself a drink, to me that is a key principle of good horsemanship, which gets a bit lost if the 'staff' just deal with it all for you. So yeah OP, maybe worth some inquiries into a smaller/more informal place that is happy for you to hang around and maybe even help out a bit before and after?

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Leftbutcameback · 07/07/2022 15:39

I would agree with getting to know your horse, and getting more familiar with them outside the school. Learning how to untack and rug up is a good start.

Re changing schools just be aware that in some bits of the country it’s hard to find riding schools, so you need to balance your requirements. If the horses and teachers are good where you are then that’s very important. Unless you’re in an area with lots of good schools!

You can of course go to more than one place - one of my friends helps out at a local charity where she gets a bit of time with the horses, and then rides at the bigger more formal stables I use.

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Leftbutcameback · 07/07/2022 15:43

I would also say that it should still be hard after a few lessons - I watched someone go from beginner to much more comfortable (at trot at least) riding once or twice a week and it took several months. Maybe you just need to be a bit more patient? Hope that doesn’t come across as rude!

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cheeseisthebest · 07/07/2022 16:48

Not rude at all!

Was going to say it is actually a tiny stables and I do like it. Will pay a bit more attention next time!

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Leftbutcameback · 07/07/2022 17:16

Glad you’ve found a nice stables @cheeseisthebest, and that you’re enjoying riding!

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cheeseisthebest · 09/07/2022 09:18

Thank you!

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Gremlinsateit · 11/07/2022 05:38

Those definitely aren’t silly questions.

For the reins, as a fellow adult beginner I found that once I had a better understanding of what to do with my legs, I was more easily able to think about holding my hands lower and more still, so you might find the same after a few more lessons.

For the horse, I once went on work-organised trail ride with a colleague who was from a horse-breeding family and had been a serious show jumper, and noticed that he took some time to introduce himself to the horse in a quiet voice, pat it gently, and let the horse see him from both sides when everyone else was hopping on. I try to follow his example and say hello, let the horse see me, and try to find a spot the horse likes to be scratched (often near the poll or the side of the neck), even if the instructor seems a little impatient, rather than just climbing on from the side. It just seems a bit more polite!

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ohgawdnowivedoneit · 11/07/2022 05:44

@Whitehorsegirl

As an adult beginner I find it helpful to move to stables where they make you tack/untack the horse and lead it into the arena yourself, so you can spend a little bit of time with your horse before and after the lesson.

When I first started learning in a small riding school they always brought the horse to me in the arena ready to mount which was really frustrating so I moved to a bigger one.

Oddly I'm the opposite. I never wanted to pay for an hour's lesson and approx fifteen minutes of that was spent getting ready for the lesson.

I just wanted to be on the horse for as long as possible.

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Serenbunny · 13/07/2022 21:21

Lots of grooming, walking in hand, feeding (only if owner allows it)

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